Need for Conserving Mangroves

 

  • Mangroves are immensely beneficial but unfortunately half of the world’s mangroves (about 32 million hectares) have already been cleared or destroyed and the remaining ones are also facing grave threat.
  • The mangrove forests are important for food, carbon storage and sequestration, coastal protection, tourism and water purification. Hence, there are efforts made to halt further losses as well as to increase mangroves through restoration.
  • Mangroves are faced with a lot of threats. For example, a large part of land has been cleared for establishing shrimp farms in Latin America and Southeast Asia which have adversely impacted mangroves. Climate change, changing land-use patterns and tourism also affect the future of the mangrove plant.
  • A serious impediment to the unhindered growth of mangroves is prompt and mostly unregulated coastal development. Although India has framed laws to protect its coastline, they are breached quite often. According to a research by the Indian Institute of Science, “India has lost 40% of its mangrove area in the last century, mainly due to agriculture, aquaculture, tourism, urban development and overexploitation”.
  • The State of Forest Report, released by the Forest Survey of India, says that “the mangrove cover in the country is increasing only marginally in the past two decades”. These facts very clearly illustrate that there is a lot to be done as far as the sustainable management and conservation of mangroves is concerned. There is an urgent need to restore degraded mangroves by governmental action as well as participation of local communities.
  • Many countries have realized the immense value of mangroves to the overall environmental sustainability. They have adopted mangrove restoration and conservation programs. Strict legislation to protect mangroves is in place in many countries. For example, Indonesia has 25 percent of the world’s mangrove population. Coastal fish farmers on the Indonesian island of Java are given 4–5 hectares of land. However, the rider is that these farmers are required to plant mangroves on 20% of this land. Seeds are gathered from budding sprouts and planted 6 to 9 feet apart. This sort of reforestation improves the environment, while feeding people and encouraging the economy. This is a sustainable long term solution devised in Indonesia.
  • Many Mangroves sites are protected under the Ramsar convention at the global level. The IUCN and The Nature Conservancy have laid down a global scientific map for the purpose of mangrove restoration. It is being held that two billion hectares of deforested and degraded lands worldwide have the potential for forest landscape restoration and this well-calibrated potential for restoration is related to climate change adaptation and mitigation – including priority areas for mangrove restoration.
  • The organizations like the Global Mangrove Watch are working tirelessly towards mangrove conservation. It is providing mangrove extent at multiple points of time from the mid-1990s to the present day. It is being postulated that “this time series of mangrove extent will allow us to identify areas of recent mangrove loss, with the assumption that recently converted areas are more restorable than those that were lost long ago”.
  • The organization has outlined the following factors contributing towards mangrove degradation: Urbanisation and industrial development, Conversion to agriculture and aquaculture ponds, Deforestation for fuelwood or timber, Rapidly changing patterns of freshwater regimes, Pollution and coastal erosion.
  • Scientific studies have found that large areas in Southeast Asia were converted into shrimp cultivation ponds but they were later abandoned. The Global Mangrove Watch in its study has found that these ponds can be major areas of mangrove restoration.